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Boiled chicken with rice

With this recipe, you’re in luck if you have a brother-in-law named Paul.

The plump white chicken stared at me with its beady eyes, head cocked. I was sitting at the supper table under the shade, waiting for the chicken to cross the road. I knew its plumpness came from all the grasshoppers that came to visit.

I had Mom’s gray washtub turned upside down and propped up with a wood stick, just high enough for the chicken to walk under. A string was attached to the stick. On the ground under the tub was chicken feed. It was a good setup if the grasshoppers didn’t distract Mrs. Chicken.

Trying to catch a chicken with your bare hands and too-slow legs is difficult. They don’t like to be cornered and they like to cluck at you.

Ignoring the grasshoppers, Mrs. Chicken went under the washtub. I pulled the string. The washtub dropped, trapping the chicken.

I was ready for this chicken. I had a cottonwood block, an axe, wood ready to be lit, and a large pail of water on a grill over the wood.

We never called our place a “ranch.” It was our place, our home. Horses, cattle, turkeys, goats, chickens and of course, us, populated it. Haystacks, two-wire fences, a potato garden, corrals and two log houses were where our family made our living.

For the uninitiated: Shooting a chicken is not done. Nor is clubbing it. It has to be caught whole, alive, undamaged and uninjured.

Some people wring the chicken’s neck. Me, I chop off the head on the wood block. For some reason this chicken, without its head, ran into the house with my mother in it. Somebody left the doors open. After a lot of unpleasant noise, the chicken came flying out of the house and hit the ground, raising dust.

After the water started to boil on the wood fire, I dunked the chicken into the water. When the water had a good boil going on around the chicken, I pulled it out.

This is the part when, if you have a brother-in-law named Paul, “Plucker Paul” can pluck the feathers off for you. The skin has to be left on. After Plucker Paul finished plucking, I gutted the chicken, scraped out the gizzard, and put aside the heart and liver. Then I gave it to my mother.

The next time I saw that chicken, its drumstick was in my soup bowl. The chicken was cut into flavorful pieces and boiled with rice in a large pot on a kitchen woodstove until done. The meat was colored a slightly greenish-gray, and had what one could call a “grasshopper” taste and smell. That chicken spent all summer eating grasshoppers that were too slow.

Recipe from Eva Brown Dog Roberts, Women’s Army Corps, World War II Veteran

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